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Rick Santorum Will Not be the 2016 Republican Nominee

Rick Santorum Pulplit 2

Rick Santorum may be “open” to running for president again but he’s not the front-runner. Indeed, he’s simply not going to be the nominee.

Byron York wonders “Why isn’t Rick Santorum the GOP 2016 frontrunner?

In 2012, he won 11 primaries and caucuses, making him the solid second-place finisher in a party that has a long history of nominating the candidate who finished second the last time around. (See Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney.) And yet now, no one — no one — is suggesting Santorum will be the frontrunner in 2016, should he choose to run. As far as the political handicapping goes, Santorum’s 2012 victories don’t seem to count for much.

There are reasons for that. A significant number of people, including moderate Republicans, think of Santorum as a sort of religious politician, obsessed with social issues and motivated largely by his pro-life convictions and Catholic faith. Santorum certainly fed that perception at a few crucial points in the 2012 race with comments on contraception and the role of religion in politics. But anyone who watched his campaign for more than a few minutes saw a candidate with a wide-ranging agenda, one who spoke at far greater length about the economy and national security than about social issues.

But Daniel Larison correctly notes that Santorum doesn’t have much credibility on those issues.

It’s certainly true that Republican donors tend to see Santorum primarily as a social conservative, and a very vocal one at that, and most of them aren’t interested in backing that kind of candidate. Many of them don’t agree with Santorum on these issues, and even some that do see Santorum’s attention to these issues as a general election weakness. That’s an important factor that will severely limit Santorum’s fundraising if he wants to run again, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. York presents Santorum’s message on economic issues as one of the strengths of the campaign, and to some extent it was, but what goes unmentioned here is how allergic many in the GOP are to anything that sounds like economic populism. His voting record is littered with all of the major blunders of the Bush years, so he can’t very credibly pose as a champion of limited government, and he has been denouncing libertarians for the better part of a decade. Santorum also comes across as abrasive, and when he speaks it usually feels as if he is lecturing and dictating to the audience rather than trying to appeal to them. If you wanted to invent a politician who could alienate several different parts of the Republican coalition all at once, you would design someone like Santorum.

There was a brief moment—the evening of his surprise win in the Iowa Caucuses—that Santorum seemed like a plausible nominee. His victory speech was humble and did a good job connecting with the best instincts of blue collar America. But he quickly revealed himself to be an angry nut trying to tap into petty resentments. The weird “What a snob!” rant solidly established him as out of touch.

I’m less sure Larison is right on this:

Probably Santorum’s biggest vulnerability is something that York only mentions in passing: his extremely aggressive foreign policy views. It’s not just that Santorum is a vocal hawk, which by itself wouldn’t be a problem in the contest for the nomination, but that he is fanatically hawkish in a party that is moving gradually in the other direction. He specializes in threat inflation and alarmism, which he takes to comical extremes, and was so uncompromising as an Iraq war supporter that he voted against Gates’ confirmation as Secretary of Defense under Bush because he thought Gates was not hawkish enough.

While I firmly believe Republicans need to get back to a Realist foreign policy vision (see my post-election essays for The Atlantic  ”The Future of Conservative Foreign Policy” and “No Longer the ‘Party of Eisenhower and Reagan’“) I’m not yet convinced that the nominating electorate will punish candidates advocating American Greatness hawkishness.

Still, I concur with Larison’s larger point: Santorum simply comes across as harsh and extreme, even to die-hard Republicans. While it’s true that the GOP has a tradition of nominating the guy whose “turn” it is, my strong guess is that, as when George W. Bush was nominated in 2000, none of the candidates from last time around will be relevant. Mitt Romney almost certainly won’t run again. Santorum hit his ceiling in 2012. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, who barely mattered, are has-beens.

I don’t have any sense who the 2016 nominee will be this far out. The party is still sorting out its identity, which the 2014 midterms may or may not contribute to solving. But I’d bet good money that it won’t be Rick Santorum.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. A significant number of people, including moderate Republicans, think of Santorum as a sort of religious politician, obsessed with social issues and motivated largely by his pro-life convictions and Catholic faith.

    The problem for the GOP is a large number of those people are Republican primary voters for whom being “obsessed with social issues and motivated largely by his pro-life convictions and Catholic faith” is considered a positive in a candidate.

    All of the reasons you point out why he would be a terrible candidate are things that will kill him in the general election. Part of the problem with the GOP is that their primary process is increasingly dominated by a small group of people who insist on those very things despite the fact they’d be electoral suicide.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 3

  2. al-Ameda says:

    Byron York wonders “Why isn’t Rick Santorum the GOP 2016 frontrunner?”
    In 2012, he won 11 primaries and caucuses, making him the solid second-place finisher in a party that has a long history of nominating the candidate who finished second the last time around.

    Speaking as a Democrat, I hope that Santorum is the nominee. Not quite as much as I hope that Palin will be the GOP nominee, but close.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 4

  3. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I’m certainly frustrated with Republican primary voters, especially in statewide races. But they have consistently rejected extremist candidates since the Goldwater debacle. They had the opportunity to nominate Santorum last time and had the frenzy of the Tea Party successes of 2010 at their backs. He even won the Iowa Caucuses. And, yet, Mitt Romney won.

    In 2008, they picked John McCain over the likes of Mike Huckabee–and, again, they did so after Huckabee gained momentum from an Iowa win.

    In 2000, they chose George W. Bush, who sold himself as a “compassionate conservative,” in a walk. The only rival who got substantial votes was McCain, who was also considered a moderate. The likes of Alan Keyes and Steve Forbes were afterthoughts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  4. @James Joyner:

    Yes, but they also seem to have convinced themselves that the real reason they lost in 2012 and 2008 was that they went with McCain and Romney instead of the mythical “Real Conservative”. That Romney’s problem isn’t that he came off as an unsympathetic snob who didn’t care about the poor, but that he lacked the moral fiber to go around kicking welfare recipients and telling them to get a job instead of whispering about it behind closed doors.

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  5. al-Ameda says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Yes, but they also seem to have convinced themselves that the real reason they lost in 2012 and 2008 was that they went with McCain and Romney instead of the mythical “Real Conservative”.

    You’re so right. I truly believe that Romney, who received 47% of the vote, was the very best candidate the GOP could offer at the time, and that his candidacy enabled the GOP to avoid a true blow out.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  6. Moosebreath says:

    I think there’s a lot to both what Stormy and James are saying.

    I think James is underestimating the extent to which the Republican nominating process has been given over to extremists. Last time, a large number of qualified candidates who were not seen as extremist (Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman) gained no ground at all while less qualified extremists (Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, Santorum) did far better. Roughly a third of the Republican primary base should be in the camp of whomever is the furthest to fringe of the choices.

    On the other hand, I don’t think that person will be Santorum. I have enormous difficulty in seeing that a repeat candidacy of his will get any traction. Instead some new flavor of the month (Steve King? Ted Cruz?) will win these voters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  7. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: That always happens with losing candidates, in both parties. It’s always “we weren’t true enough to our principles” to the hard core of the base. But losing tends to push parties to the middle pretty quickly.

    @Moosebreath: Nobody had heard of Daniels or Pawlenty ahead of time and Huntsman, who was my preferred choice, went out of his way to insult and alienate the base. I could see a Ted Cruz doing well, though, in that he’s endeared himself to parts of the base and is indeed smart and smooth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  8. Andre Kenji says:

    1-) The idea of “turns” is simplistic. The point is that the Republican Nominating System favors people with high name recognition, specially because until last election all delegates were handed to the winner of the state. That´s why the son of a former president was nominated in 2000, not Lamar Alexander, Pat Buchanan or Steven Forbes.

    Santorum hardly had the most of the name recognition among the 2012 candidates.

    2-) Santorum is a Catholic that speaks like an Evangelical. I´ve never heard Santorum talking about Virgin Mary or ANY Catholic Saint.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  9. anjin-san says:

    But losing tends to push parties to the middle pretty quickly.

    Two straight losses in presidential elections seems to have had the opposite effect on the GOP.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

  10. C. Clavin says:

    The fact that anyone cares what Byron York says…or is even discussing Rick Santorum…is a sad commentary on the state of the GOP.

    But then the other big GOP news today is that Boehner played gold with Trump.

    Four Republicans…four clowns.

    Rather tragic what has happened to a once-great political party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4

  11. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “Nobody had heard of Daniels or Pawlenty ahead of time”

    As opposed to Herman Cain or Rick Santorum?

    “I could see a Ted Cruz doing well, though, in that he’s endeared himself to parts of the base and is indeed smart and smooth.”

    I’ll give you the first, though from what I’ve seen, he has a long way to go to be either smart or smooth, even acknowledging that I am not his intended audience.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  12. C. Clavin says:

    “…losing tends to push parties to the middle pretty quickly…”

    I would think…given your position at OTB…that you would be more up on current affairs.
    Your party is doubling down on the crazy.
    Seriously? You didn’t realize this?

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  13. Davebo says:

    I think you are confusing the GOP you’d like to exist with the GOP that actually does exist.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 0

  14. gVOR08 says:

    Whether Richard Cardinal Santorum runs or not, and his success, is entirely a function of whether he finds another Foster Friess, or maybe the same Foster Friess, to foot the bills. I have no way to assess the odds of such a Black Swan event, or even to know whether it’s already happened. There are enough nut-job billionaires in the Party one can hardly rule it out.

    The money Republicans seem to be making an effort to reassert control of the Party. But I’m not seeing who’s the candidate they will coalesce around. People keep saying it’s Jeb Bush’s nomination if he steps up and asks for it. I have trouble taking Bush III seriously, but I’m not a Republican primary voter, so maybe, but he hasn’t asked and he seems a stretch. Rubio was next in line, but he seems to have pretty thoroughly stepped in it with the Tea Party. Perhaps it’s nothing enough money can’t solve. There’s some reason Romney’s back in public claiming he never said stuff he’s on video saying. I think he thinks he has a shot. Christie, maybe. Huntsman? Please. Seriously, who’s the establishment “moderate” candidate going to be?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  15. Jen says:

    Huntsman, who was my preferred choice, went out of his way to insult and alienate the base.

    All Huntsman did was move away from the crazies. He said he believed in science and climate change and evolution, and that becomes “going out of his way to alienate the base.”

    If that’s all it takes to alienate the base, Republicans will be spending a long time in the wilderness.

    Rick Santorum endeared himself to a vocal, active, part of the base by being way out on the social conservative limb. He can’t unring that bell, and independent women–I am one who would have likely voted for Huntsman–will not ever consider someone like Santorum.

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  16. JohnMcC says:

    @C. Clavin: “…losing tends to push parties to the middle pretty quickly…” I think that Dr Joyce is speaking through his academic PoliSci persona, my friend and fellow lefty. When I took courses in that subject we sliced and diced the whole aspect of “party” into discrete pieces. There is (one can say) a Republican “presidential party” and a “congressional party”; there also can be said to be a ‘national’ party and a separate assembly of state and local parties.

    From that point of view, the Original Post makes perfect sense. The last three presidential candidates have indeed been from a segment of the Republicans that could have been considered as ‘national’ — as somehow representing enough voters to form a truly unified government.

    I think where I disagree with Dr Joyner, and to agree with Mr Clavin, is that the Republican party (in particular — much more than the Dems) has become two things that no American political party has ever been to the best of my knowledge: First, they have become (or strongly resemble) a religious cult. From this angle, Santorum might not be the best fit since the cult is rooted in protestant (and specifically ‘Pre-Millenialist’) fundamentalism and he wears his Roman Catholicism fairly prominantly. But the anti-abortion message has essentially erased the differences between the Opus Dei and the Born Again wings of that movement.

    Second, the Republican party has become the political wing of Fox News (and the rest of the so-called-conservative entertainment machine). If the right wing media moves on from Mr Santorum, I’m pretty sure he’s toast. See the discussion by Dr Larison above about possible ‘donors’ as a different way of expressing this idea.

    I see a list of seven Republican candidates for ’16: Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Paul Rand, Jeb Bush & Scott Walker. (From ‘policymic-dot-com)

    I think the only one of those who could more easily win the so-called ‘Jesus-wing’ would be Ted Cruz, who is setting himself up very well as the most-right-wing figure in the Republican party on EVERY side. By becoming the right-wing uniter, he is both the most unlikely to win the presidency but the strongest candidate for the nomination.

    2 cents, please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  17. Jen says:

    Santorum is a Catholic that speaks like an Evangelical. I´ve never heard Santorum talking about Virgin Mary or ANY Catholic Saint.

    The Catholic Church also made its peace a long time ago about evolution, yet Santorum, IIRC, is in the young earth creationist camp. My guess is that this is because there are still those in the evangelical camp who consider Catholicism a cult, and this is how Santorum has chosen to position himself to make himself an “acceptable Catholic.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  18. Pinky says:

    Santorum won’t get the nomination because he has no soapbox. He will have been out of politics for 9 years come 2016, and he’s not personable enough for broadcasting. That’s a huge thing. If he left Washington to become a governor or an ambassador or something, or was the head of the RNC, then he’d have a resume-building post and an opportunity to speak. If he were hosting three hours a day on the radio or had a show on Glenn Beck’s TV network he’d be getting exposure and working out the kinks in his delivery. He has nothing right now that will make him stronger in 2016 than he was in 2012.

    If you look at the votes he received in 2012, they were largely from the anti-establishment crowd. They’re likely to have plenty of other choices during the next presidential primary. And they only went for Santorum after several other candidates fizzled out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  19. Pinky says:

    @Jen: I get your point, but if Gingrich can win in SC, I think the dynamics have changed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. Latino_in_Boston says:

    It’s really a shame that he didn’t win last time. At least no one could say that he was not conservative enough.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  21. Nick says:

    @C. Clavin:

    What can possibly draw someone to support the GOP these days, unless they’re members of the base or of the aristocracy? Puzzling.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  22. Nick says:

    @al-Ameda:

    “Byron York wonders “Why isn’t Rick Santorum the GOP 2016 frontrunner?””

    Because we’re not that lucky.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  23. MikeSJ says:

    It’s clear to me who the next GOP candidate is going to be…no matter what happens in his upcoming election Ken “The Cooch” Cuccinelli’s with his powerful message of “Get that &#^^@ out of your mouth” is going to electrify the base.

    It will be an epic showdown. Santorum will make an excellent V.P. however.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  24. Scott F. says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Ted Cruz as the nominee should be a treat.

    I’m particularly looking forward to him explaining to the American people how, even though he was born in a foreign country (Canada), the fact his mother is American makes any discussion of his eligibility for the Presidency off-limits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  25. Scott F. says:

    @Pinky:

    Santorum won’t get the nomination because he has no soapbox. He will have been out of politics for 9 years come 2016, and he’s not personable enough for broadcasting.

    Except that this latest round of Santorum Speculation was prompted by the question of his candidacy coming up during his appearance on Meet the Press just this past Sunday. The moribund Sunday news shows will create a soapbox for him, because he tends to say the sort of incendiary things that brings these shows attention.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  26. DRF says:

    @James Joyner: No doubt the GOP has historically gone for the moderate candidate, but neither 2008 nor 2012 are good examples. In 2012, there really wasn’t a candidate of quality to oppose Romney. Santorum’s extremism was and is a problem, but perhaps just as importantly, he just wasn’t, and isn’t going to be, a good candidate. As Joiner points out, he’s far too harsh, and in addition, I just don’ think he’s all that bright. He clearly doesn’t have command of any of the substantive economic or foreign policy issues.

    As long as the right wing throws up unappealing, and often ridiculous, candidates, it won’t prevail over a moderate, experienced campaigner.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  27. Pinky says:

    @Scott F.: Bloggers talking about what someone in the Washington Examiner wrote about someone’s appearance on Meet the Press isn’t the same thing as a national podium.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  28. superdestroyer says:

    @anjin-san:

    Because being the Democratic-lite party would be just one path to failure. The idea that moderate Republicans win elections have been massively disproven in states like Mass., Maryland, California, and NY.

    Of course, the real question is whether there is any Republican candidate that is capable of being nominated and still be competitive in Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Since there is no candidate that can be nominated and be competitive in those states, maybe we can all skip the breathless analysis of a presidential election that no Republican can win and move on to discussing policy and issues instead of the horse race.

    However, it seems that the last thing that any progressive wants to discuss in policy and governance in the Obama Administration when there are so many totally irrelevant Republicans to rant about.

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  29. Pinky says:

    @DRF: The tea party especially seems to favor candidates with limited experience.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. superdestroyer says:

    @Jen:

    Huntsman does not really believe what he is saying about global climate change. If he did, then Huntsman would not own so many homes. jet around the world, and consumed so much energy. As long as elites like Huntsman long 100,000;s of thousands of air miles each year, it should be clear that he does not really care about the environment. How could someone who really cares about the enviroment own so many unneeded homes?

    Huntsman lost the Republican voter by acting like a Democrats and letting everyone know that he would do whatever the Democrats wanted him to do.

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  31. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:

    The tea party especially seems to favor candidates with limited experience.

    That’s because experienced candidates usually believe that government has a role beyond that of: (1) increasing restrictions on a woman’s reproductive health care choices, (2) voting repeatedly to repeal ACA, and (3) leveraging a Federal Debt Limit fight into a downgrade of American Debt.

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  32. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott F.:

    I’m particularly looking forward to him explaining to the American people how, even though he was born in a foreign country (Canada), the fact his mother is American makes any discussion of his eligibility for the Presidency off-limits.

    Conservatives deal with cognitive dissonance with denial. They have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

    I make it a point to mention Romneycare to my conservative friends whenever I can. So far, the consistent response has been the same as Romney’s, ‘No habla Ingles’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  33. Pinky says:

    @al-Ameda: See what was happening here? We were doing political analysis, not dumping on each other. Maybe we don’t agree on everything, but we can look at the dynamics of the political scene maturely. Give it a shot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  34. David M says:

    @Pinky:

    Bringing policy into a political discussion…the horror.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  35. Pinky says:

    @David M: If al-Ameda or you want to talk policy, fine. If you want to caricature policy, well, it’s an open board, so have fun with it, but you’re not helping your cause any.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  36. Pinky says:

    @Pinky: And that’s really the point I want to make – if you’re trying to help your cause, you aren’t doing objective analysis, and you’re giving people the impression that you can’t do objective analysis.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  37. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky: Where am wrong in characterizing inexperienced Tea Party politicians?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  38. David M says:

    @Pinky:

    If you want to caricature policy, well, it’s an open board, so have fun with it, but you’re not helping your cause any.

    So you’re claiming the tea party doesn’t want more restrictions on abortion? They aren’t pushing to continue repealing Obamacare even if it’s only for show? They didn’t cause the credit rating downgrade with their debt ceiling stunt?

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  39. Zorro for the Common Good says:

    @James Joyner:

    I agree with you that the GOP has historically tended to ultimately shun the more right-wing candidates. And it’s also true that base voters (especially on the right, but to some extent on the left as well) always rationalize a loss by saying the candidate should have “stayed true to his principles.”

    Nonetheless, I agree with Stormy that there is an anger bubbling up among the GOP base over their belief that The Establishment has consistently sold them out, and I think one of these days they are going to attach themselves to a semi-plausible candidate and finally throw the money changers out of the temple. That’s why I think Rand Paul is way underrated. Cruz is not just ideologically extreme, he’s also temperamentally so (read: he’s an a-hole, much like Santorum). Paul will inherit the fervor of his dad’s followers, but he’s far cagier a politician than his dad ever was. And unlike with Cain, Bachmann or (God help us) Trump, his supporters will view him as more than just a pressure valve for their anger. They’ll view him as a guy who could actually win.

    Of course, they’ll be wrong. Not only is Paul’s ideology far too extreme for the general election, he won’t be disciplined enough to disguise that from voters. His 2010 appearance on Rachel Maddow may have been a novice’s mistake, but the fact that he felt the need to engage in a philosophical debate about the ’64 CRA suggests he’s one of those people who cares more about winning an argument than an election.

    Mind you, I’m not guaranteeing that he gets the nomination (though I am guaranteeing he gets slaughtered in the general if he does). I think the Establishment will fight back hard against him, and most likely unite around either Rubio or Jeb Bush (since only one of them will run). If I had to guess, I’d probably put it at 45/35/20 that Paul, Rubio/Bush or someone else gets the nomination. But even if Paul loses the primary, I predict he or someone like him will get the nomination within a decade.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  40. superdestroyer says:

    @Zorro for the Common Good:

    Do you really think that Rand Paul comes it first or second in New Hampshire? There are only two tickets out of New Hampshire and I doubt if Paul is going to get one of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  41. bill says:

    santorum’s a wack job, the msm would love to have him in the field just for the sheer joy of the headline potential. their worst fear is christie going for it, then they’ll have to rip apart a moderate that they’ve been fawning over for a year plus. not like an east coast republican can ever be considered a “conservative” but they will vote for him. and, as we’ve seen in the past, voters prefer charisma over substance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  42. Blue Galangal says:

    @Jen:

    Thanks, Jen. Exactly. As a sister independent women, the GOP lost me with Palin. It’s possible Huntsman might have gotten my vote if he’d gotten the nomination, but doubtful, partly because I wasn’t unhappy with Obama (who is a center right president and anyone who thinks he’s a Marxist needs to pick up a book).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  43. Barry says:

    @anjin-san:
    Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 09:49

    James: “But losing tends to push parties to the middle pretty quickly.”

    anjin-san says: “Two straight losses in presidential elections seems to have had the opposite effect on the GOP. ”

    Remember that they had a massive mid-term victory in 2010, which gave them control of many states. They’ll probably do well in 2014.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  44. Barry says:

    @Zorro for the Common Good: “That’s why I think Rand Paul is way underrated.”

    His father was able to get 10% of the vote in primaries.

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  45. JohnMcC says:

    @Pinky:Related to the ‘tea party prefers inexperience’ theme, I think your remark is a way of saying what I say when I refer to the conservative movement as cult-like. By being in government the experienced politician has compromised him/herself and cannot be trusted. Politics and government are confused with religion and purity. A theme not unheard of in our history — we’ve seen abolitionists and temperance movements and such — but not the way to roll in a huge, complex modern nation in the 21st century.

    .@Zorro for the Common Good: Regarding Senator Cruz being an ‘a-hole’ — this could in some ways be to his advantage. Rather like Gov Christie’s or Senator McCain’s famous tempers, this adds to his appeal in some circles. Conservapedia, in it’s worshipful article on Senator Joseph McCarthy (sort of the original A-hole) points out that in 1954 the Gallup Poll found him the 4th most admired man in the country.

    @Scott F.: Your reference to the TedCruz Birther Problem led me to a couple of fun things to read. The short version is that almost everyone thinks that he is in fact eligible for the presidency because his citizenship was granted by the condition of his birth, by being born to a woman who was a citizen at the time. But weirdly, no court has ever conclusively settled the issue. There are only 2 mentions in the Constitution that define ‘citizenship’, one being Sectn 1, Art 2 and the other the 14th Amendment. And since Sen Cruz himself believes that the Constitution should be interpreted LITERALLY, he himself is likely to be the only person in the room who would doubt his qualification on the basis of foreign birth. Hilarious. (h/t to Noam Scheiber of TNR — who also finds this amusing.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  46. Pinky says:

    That’s because experienced candidates usually believe that government has a role beyond that of: (1) increasing restrictions on a woman’s reproductive health care choices, (2) voting repeatedly to repeal ACA, and (3) leveraging a Federal Debt Limit fight into a downgrade of American Debt.

    Here’s how I see it:

    1) The Tea Party is not necessarily pro-life. You’ll find a lot of social/fiscal conservatives, but you’ll also find a lot of libertarians.

    An abortion is not “a woman’s reproductive health care choice” any more than a cold-blooded murder is a valid exercise of gun rights. To follow one side’s framing of an issue is to present an argument, not an analysis. I use the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice”.

    2) As I’ve pointed out here before, there have been some votes to repeal the ACA, but there have also been votes that have resulted in changes to the law. It’s partisan to lump all the votes together the way you did.

    3) One could argue that the downgrade of the debt was more due to the failures to address the underlying causes of the increasing debt, rather than the debt limit fight itself.

    Overall, the comment wasn’t designed to elicit thought. It was designed to make one group cheer and one group boo.

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  47. C. Clavin says:

    “…Here’s how I see it…”

    I gather you are way overdue at the optometrist?

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  48. C. Clavin says:

    “…I use the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice”…”
    Why in the world don’t you use terms that have a relation to one another?
    Either Anti-Life or Anti-Choice.
    I’ll tell you why…because the use of the appropriate dichotomous term lays bare the idiocy of your position. You need to use BS terminology to even appear reasonable. ..not be reasonable…appear reasonable.
    - Who is actually Anti-Life? Jeffrey Dahmer? Is Obama Anti-Life? Is Planned Parenthood Anti-Life? Or maybe the State of Texas which leads the Capital Punishment competition by a mile? Maybe the NRA who protects the rights of children to shoot their playmates in the face?
    - You are in fact Anti-Choice. Given what Republicans want, as evidenced by Texas, conception would be considered the very beginning of life. A woman would have her choice taken away from her before it was even possible for her to know if she was pregnant.
    Look – reasonable people can have a discussion as to when a single cell becomes a human being and deserves protection.
    The Anti-Choice side is not reasonable.

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  49. Pinky says:

    @C. Clavin: I would prefer to use the terms pro-abortion and anti-abortion, but I don’t think that “pro-abortion” is the way pro-choicers want to characterize themselves. There’s no point ticking off someone who might agree with you on a number of other issues.

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  50. David M says:

    @Pinky:

    You still haven’t addressed the actual points that were made. There has been a fairly significant increase in abortion restrictions since 2010, the current Tea Party efforts regarding Obamacare are not sincere efforts to improve the law and the idea that the debt ceiling stunt wasn’t the cause of the downgrade only means the GOP resistance to increased revenues is the next most likely reason.

    Look, you keep complaining about people being partisan, but you’re actively ignoring the actions of the GOP to do so.

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  51. C. Clavin says:

    But Pro-Abortion is a nonsensical and extremely loaded term.
    Most Pro-Choice advocates believe abortion should be both legal and extremely rare.
    Anti-Choice policies lead to demonstrably more abortions…usually illegal and dangerous.
    In other words your so-called Anti-Abortion policies are actually working at cross-purposes to your beliefs.
    That’s the problem with zealotry…it never accomplishes anything positive.
    If you really cared about limiting abortions…and not just controlling womens rights…then you would support Pro-Choice policies.
    It’s not at all unlike Republican economic policies…if you really cared about reducing debt and increasing employment…then you would support Democratic policies because history shows us Democrats are more fiscally responsible.
    I know the world is complex…but it wouldn’t hurt if you actually tried to keep up…instead of simply repeating party dogma.

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  52. Pinky says:

    @C. Clavin: Seriously, dude, reread what you just wrote and think about the accusation of “repeating party dogma”.

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  53. David M says:

    On the subject of the GOP / Tea Party and Obamacare, they are unwilling to fix the way the subsidies work for churches and clergy. They are also currently pushing to shut down the government if Obamacare is not defunded.

    Yet we’re supposed to ignore that, and take seriously the idea that they really are good faith partners in trying to improve the law?

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  54. C. Clavin says:

    @ Pinky…
    Yes, that’s a natural response…when your entire political outlook is based on mis-information and factual errors and outright lies…as is the Republican parties…then actual facts appear to be dogmatic.
    For instance: Supply-Siders, Climate Change Deniers, Birthers, Creationists, Anti-Choicers, LBGT Opposition, Vote-Supressors…to all those people the facts appear as dogma. For a prime example one only need look at the polling leading up to the Presidential election when the entire Republican Party refused to accept the facts…polling which ultimately proved to be spot-on. Facts are anathema to the Republican epistemological view…and therefore facts become dogma.
    And so it is for you, evidently.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  55. C. Clavin says:

    I forgot Neo-Cons…a big one for fictional beliefs.

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  56. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: Which is why any publication can be labeled as liberal biased simply for the sin of accepting evolution, global warming, or actual arithmetic applied to the budget.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  57. Pinky says:

    @C. Clavin: I will have an adult conversation on this site one day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  58. JohnMcC says:

    @Pinky: “…address the underlying cause of the increasing debt…”

    http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/federal_deficit_chart.html

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  59. David M says:

    @Pinky:

    It’s a two way street. You’ve been pretty invested in claiming the GOP is not doing what everyone can see they are doing with their own eyes.

    The GOP isn’t repeatedly trying to repeal Obamacare.
    The GOP isn’t filibustering anything.
    The GOP isn’t restricting abortion.
    The GOP didn’t threaten to not raise the debt ceiling.
    etc

    Now whether you think those things are good or bad isn’t really the point, but there really isn’t any room for disagreement on whether they are happening.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  60. Zorro for the Common Good says:

    @superdestroyer: @superdestroyer:

    OK first of all, it’s probably too early to make predictions about who will win in ’16, but it’s *definitely* too early to predict specific primaries. (Though I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to imagine Paul doing well in NH, especially since his supporters have taken over the IA party apparatus, so he could come out of there with a big win. Remember when Obama won IA and suddenly made up a huge deficit to Hillary in NH in a matter of days?)

    More importantly, though, I don’t really buy into the classic “slingshot” narrative of primaries, where you need to get your “ticket punched” coming out of NH in order to remain viable. The more relevant question, IMHO, is whether Paul will still be in a strong position after the first couple primaries. Given that he’s likely to have a strong campaign infrastructure, and could dominate in caucus states, in the South, and where his minions have radicalized state parties, he could still be well-positioned even with a mediocre finish in NH.

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  61. C. Clavin says:

    “…I will have an adult conversation on this site one day…”

    Probably not…because…what David M. typed.

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  62. C. Clavin says:

    @ Pinky…
    Look at what happened with the funding of the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development last week.
    Democrats had long argued that Ryans budget was smoke and mirrors…with a lot of targets and assumptions that simply weren’t feasible in the real world. But Ryan said no…he is a Republican policy wonk…and dammit, his budget was real.
    Then last week…when faced with what those targets and assumptions meant in the real world…Republicans had to yank the bills. They refused to implement the very budget they passed just 3 months prior.
    Republicans are not operating in the real world. And thus the real world appears to be some radical left-wing agenda. But it’s not…it’s just the real world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  63. Moosebreath says:

    @Pinky:

    “I will have an adult conversation on this site one day.”

    I doubt it. That will require that you actually respond to factual arguments other people are saying. You instead prefer to close your ears, then complain how narrow-minded everyone else is for not accepting the validity of arguments made without factual basis.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  64. Pinky says:

    @David M: David – I said one of those things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  65. David M says:

    @Pinky:

    Is there a material different between saying “the GOP is passing restrictions abortion” and “the GOP is passing restrictions on a woman’s reproductive health care choices”?

    Either the GOP is “voting repeatedly to repeal Obamacare” or they are not.

    Why object to these statements and then claim otherwise?

    Setup: The GOP obviously did X
    Commenter: The GOP did X
    Pinky: That’s not fair to say the GOP did X
    Commenter: So why do you say the GOP didn’t do X
    Pinky: I didn’t say that

    It’s nonsensical.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  66. stonetools says:

    Circling back to the OP..
    It’s plain that James is imagining the Republican Party not as it currently is, but as how he would like it to be Santorum, with his base in the cultural conservatives who are passing all those anti-abortion bills at the state level, has just as much chance as Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rubio et al-maybe even a better chance if he just tones down his rhetoric a bit.
    Hell, all he has to do is mention the cultural conservative stuff less (without changing his views) and start talking more about “comprehensive tax reform” (less taxes on the wealthy) and “restoring economic freedom” ( deregulation). James would immediately roll over for him (“Santorum has embraced moderation”) , and Doug would start talking about him being an “acceptable compromise” for the libertarian voter.
    A smoother, cooler Santorum could definitely do well in 2016.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  67. Paul Hooson says:

    Santorum represents all of the socially extreme schemes that I resent in Communist regimes like North Korea. That’s not the right thing for a democracy that has a Bill Of Rights and is supposed to respect the individual. – Thankfully, this guy cannot even win election in his home state alone win the presidency. People who know him best….his home state voters say he’s a dud.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  68. Barry says:

    @Pinky: “The Tea Party is not necessarily pro-life. You’ll find a lot of social/fiscal conservatives, but you’ll also find a lot of libertarians. ”

    Bull. None of these Tea Party people were visible during the running amok of Bush/Cheney.
    Also, when Tea Party people get elected, we see zero libertarianism, but lots of anti-abortion, crony capitalism and general right-wing laws passed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0